Around the Globe: international

UES to sell Northwest stake

The board of directors of Russian electricity monopoly Unified Energy Systems (UES) agreed to sell a 25 per cent share plus one share in the Northwestern Combined Heat and Power plant through a tender, worth an estimated $125m.

UES said around $133m would be needed to complete the second power generating unit at the plant. Given that UES’ budget for 2002 does not allocate financing to complete the power station, the board decided in March to bring in a strategic investor for construction of the second phase of the plant.

The base line price for the stake has been set at $49.2m. The potential investor would get the rights to manage the station, and options to acquire an additional 25 per cent stake for $70m. Investors would be obligated to raise a seven-year loan of $125m to finance completion of the second generator and service debts to contractor VO Tekhnopromexport.

The first phase of the power plant is now under construction and is expected to be completed by 2004.

GE supplies Turkey with new GT offering

The first units of GE Power Systems’ new MS6001C gas turbine product offering are to be installed at a power plant in Turkey. GE launched the new machine, a 40 MW-class unit ideal for cogeneration applications, at Power-Gen Europe in Milan.

The first two Frame 6C gas turbines will be purchased by Akenerji, a leading electricity producer in Turkey, and will be installed at the company’s Kemalpasa-Izmir site. GE will supply an equipment engineered, power island package for the combined cycle plant. The gas turbines are scheduled for delivery to the site in early 2004.

Akenerji General Manager Onder Karaduman said: “The Turkish electricity market is in the process of deregulation. We have selected the high performance 6C gas turbines to help increase our competitiveness in this challenging market.”

Africa to build ‘Three Gorges’ hydro plant

One of the major Chinese contractors of the world’s largest hydropower project has won the bidding to build the largest hydropower project in Africa worth $224m.

The project will equal the scale of China’s Three Gorges project itself, and China National Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering Corporation (CWHEC) will build the project – known as the Tekeze Hydropower Project (THPP) – in Ethiopia.

The contract will be the largest cooperative project between China and an African country. Sue Yue, director of the international cooperation department of the CWHEC, said that the importance of the THPP to Ethiopia is equal to that of the Three Gorges to China.

The main structure of the concrete dam of the THPP is designed in the shape of hyperbola and of 185 m in height, which is 10 m higher than the Three Gorges Dam.

Czech state gives CEZ the nod

The Czech government, the main shareholder in power utility CEZ, gave the firm’s management the go-ahead for the long-awaited takeover of regional electricity distributors worth $650m.

The government told the firm’s general meeting that management must carry a new valuation of CEZ’s stake in the national high voltage transmission grid, which is to be partly sold to the state in exchange for the distributors.

The cabinet has agreed to sell stakes in eight regional power distributors to CEZ, giving the company guaranteed access to customers on the gradually liberalizing Czech market.

US company eyes Kenya transmission investment

Power Engineers, a US-based engineering company, will perform a feasibility study of four high-priority power transmission projects in Kenya. The study will be funded by a grant to the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) from the US Trade and Development Agency.

Mike Long of Power Engineers said: “This grant signifies a move by the US to open channels of funding for infrastructure projects in Kenya and east Africa.” Power demand is growing at 4.9 per cent per year in Kenya.

Poland selects German group to buy top power utility

Poland has picked E.ON as the preferred bidder for the G-8 utility group, said Economy Minister Jacek Piechota.

The consortium, which also includes E.ON’s east German subsidiary e.dis Energie Nord, will hold exclusive negotiations over a deal which could give it control over 17 per cent of Poland’s power distribution market. Last month E.ON sealed a deal to buy control over Slovakia’s largest and the most lucrative power distributor ZSE, getting a strong foothold just outside Poland’s southern border.

News digest

Algeria: The Algerian government has opened its electricity and gas monopoly to foreign investors in preparation for the liberalization of its domestic power market. Sonelgaz, which is the country’s state-owned gas distributor had been under state management and control for more than three decades.

Bahrain: Bahrain is considering the privatization of its electricity sector. The announcement was made following the Economic Development Board chaired by the Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamed Al Khalifa.

Lithuania: The Lithuanian government agreed in principle to close down the Soviet-built Ignalina nuclear power station’s RBMK reactors by 2009 following years of pressure from the EU. The precise amount of aid required for the operation – estimated to cost almost $43bn has not yet been agreed.

Morocco: A consortium led by Total Energie and comprising shareholders TotalFinaElf, through its subsidiary Total Maroc and Electricité de France, has been awarded a contract for a rural solar power electrification programme covering 16 000 households in Morocco.

Romania: ABB has won a $37m contract in Romania to engineer and build a high voltage substation to transmit power from Slatina, in the southern part of Romania, to consumers 250 km to the east in Bucharest, and nearby Alro.

Romania: The Romanian state has approved an energy development strategy for the period to 2015 including the construction of new power generation capacity and the modernization of thermal, hydro and nuclear power stations.

Russia: The reactor of the first block of the Temelin nuclear power station in southern Bohemia has reached 100 per cent capacity and is producing 980 MW of electricity. The first block was approved for trial operation in the first half of June but the turbine was shut down later in the same week because of technical problems.

Russia: Two Russian energy groups, EES Rossii and the natural gas major Gazprom, have decided to sell off their interests in the Pskov regional power station. EES will sell its 25 per cent stake and retain 25 per cent and Gazprom, which controls the other 50 per cent, will also sell at least as many shares.

Slovakia: The Slovak government approved the sale of 49 per cent stakes in three separate electricity distributors to foreign investors. After a three-week delay, the cabinet approved the sale of Zapadoslovenska Energetika to E.ON for €330m, Vychodoslovenska Energetika to RWE Plus for €130m and Stredoslovenska energetika to Electricité de France for €158m.

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